Action No. 2: Establish an Oversight Group to Get Results
Service-oriented architecture adopterslarge entities in particularshould set up a group to coordinate activities. This chore is often described as "SOA governance."
An organization with hundreds (or thousands) of developers needs a common development approach to maintain consistency and interoperability among services. Developers in far-flung business units need to know what services exist. And reuse, as a policy, needs enforcement to make it a reality. A dedicated architecture group can make those things happen.
Thomson Learning, a $2 billion global market group of Thomson Corp., the electronic media conglomerate based in Stamford, Conn., operates an architecture council that provides guidance to developers. The council consists of a group of enterprise architects from across Thomson Learning's business units. The group provides guidance to developers in the design and implementation of service-oriented architecture technologies.
Such architecture groups get the word out to developers through face-to-face meetings with developers and published "blueprints" for designing services. Governance may also involve the use of a repository that provides a common resource for looking up services already developed. The main idea is to encourage the use of common guidelines so service development remains consistent.
"It's like Legos," says Motorola's Redshaw. "The moment you start introducing pieces that don't have the right connectors, you've ruined the Lego set."
Good governance reduces the risk of mismatched services and redundant development efforts. Uncontrolled development, on the other hand, can lead to redundant code. Such duplication runs counter to reuse, the key benefit of service-oriented architecture, notes Prashanth Ajjampur, vice president of architecture at The Hartford Financial Service Group Inc., the $27 billion insurance giant in Hartford, Conn. "The biggest risk we saw early in the service-oriented architecture was the recognition that we could have renegade services out there," he says.